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A Letter from the Pastor to Presbytery

“But God!”
January 21, 2010

The scope of several events this week is truly overwhelming. First, there is the immensity of the devastation in Haiti, defying all attempts at description. The horror of such massive suffering numbs us; how can we possibly make a difference in its face? The answer, of course, is one prayer, one step and one dollar at a time. If every Presbyterian gave just a dollar, we could make a significant difference in humanitarian aid to this devastated land. Giving through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is one of the most efficient (administrative costs are 5 percent or less) and effective (PDA is plugged into the finest relief network anywhere) ways to give. You may do so through your congregation, or directly at www.pcusa.org/pda.

Second, this week we celebrate the life and witness of Martin Luther King, Jr., who left an unprecedented legacy of pursuing justice and liberty for all peoples in America. Rooting his message firmly in the Gospel, Dr. King taught us never to underestimate the power of God to undo the powers of unjust leaders, practices and institutions. While he spoke especially to and for the African American community, his clarion call for a just equality for all challenges every kind of categorical discrimination. He powerfully reminds all of us that in Christ, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Where in our life together might we need to bear more authentic witness to that biblical vision?

Finally, this week the church addresses perhaps its most intransigent problem of all – the scandal of its division – through the international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. As a small token of our hope and prayer that this scandal shall one day end, I joined with a number of local denominational leaders in leading a service of prayer yesterday at the Trinity Cathedral. What a small thing to do in face of such massive rupture: Pray! Surely so much more is needed. Truthfully, we’ve become all too comfortable with the divisions that persist in Christianity. We grow dull to the way in which our divisions diminish the credibility of our evangelistic claim that in Christ God is reconciling, not splintering the world. What does it say when we claim that God is reconciling the world while we wink at divisions in the church?

And so the challenges presented to us this week are truly immense, daunting, even impossible. But God! Therefore we refuse to give in or give up. When it comes to saving people from the powers of sin and death, Jesus says, “For mortals, it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27)

The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, Pastor to Presbytery

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